Trinity Ottoson-Smith shooting: Man pleads guilty in girl's murder

The man accused of fatally shooting 9-year-old Trinity Ottoson-Smith while she jumped on a trampoline in Minneapolis in May 2021 has pleaded guilty. 

Dpree Shareef Robinson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Monday, the day his first-degree murder trial was slated to begin. Robinson was overcome with emotion while he allocuted, admitting he had beef with someone in a neighboring house. He shot at the house, knowing it was risky with kids in the backyard, jumping on a trampoline. 

Trinity's father spoke after the plea, saying he's at peace and a huge burden had been lifted off him.

"I felt something come up off me, some anger, some weight," said Raishawn Smith. "Just -- it just lifted off of me once he said what he said."

"We don't know what justice looks like, what it feels like, but we do know what that kind of accountability feels like and this was it," Smith added. 

His sentencing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on March 21. 

Police said on May 15, 2021, the 9-year-old was jumping on a trampoline in the backyard of a friend's home on the 2200 block of North Illion Avenue in Minneapolis. Trinity was rushed to the hospital where she died 12 days later. Investigators said it appeared Trinity was "an unintended target of a gang-related drive-by shooting."

Trinity was one of three young children shot in Minneapolis in less than three weeks during the summer of 2021. But her case is the only one where an arrest has been made.

The charges

Trinity Ottoson-Smith

According to the criminal complaint, the drive-by shooting was captured on surveillance video. Trinity, along with two others, were jumping on a backyard trampoline in the line of fire between the shooter and intended targets, who appeared to be three men on the side porch of the residence. The video shows one of the men chasing the suspect vehicle on foot and appearing to return fire three times, charges state. The gun was later recovered during the arrest of one of the men present at the shooting.

Investigators determined the suspect vehicle's model and license plate using video surveillance and License Plate Reader technology. The car was purchased three days before the shooting. Robinson's phone activity also matched the same geographical areas of the car. Charges outlined how investigators used Robinson's social media posts to indicate that this was a shooting between rival gang members.

It appears Robinson was targeting a man who was at the Ilion Avenue home at the time of the shooting, according to "threatening" and "aggressive" social media communications reviewed by investigators.

Investigators also determined a romantic relationship between Robinson and the targeted man's sister, stating that they "obviously had a bad break up." Three days before the shooting, the woman accused Robinson of cheating on her and lying to her, according to charges.

About 30 minutes after the deadly shooting of Trinity, Robinson searched how to change the paint on his car three times online before he stopped using the phone forever. The car also appears to have vanished, investigators indicated after an extensive, nationwide search for it.

Charges also describe how several people knew Robinson's role in Trinity's death. Through search warrants executed on Robinson's social media, investigators found a Facebook conversation he had with his girlfriend in June 2021. She was upset after a physical altercation they had and repeatedly called Robinson a "child killer." Investigators also spoke with an individual acquainted with Robinson, who told them Robinson admitted to being present at the murder of Trinity.